IDEALS OF LIFE Iig
national disorder, as during the change of dynasties, a great number of scholars shaved their heads and took monastic orders, as much for personal protection as out of feeling for the helpless chaos of the world.
There is justification enough in a chaotic country for the popularity of a religion which declares the vanity of the world and offers a refuge from the pains and vicissitudes of this earthly life. We have to-day an extant copy of the life of Lu Liching by his daughter. Lu Liching, at the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Manchu Dynasty, disappeared from the world in his old age, and after long years of separation from his wife and children, once entered the city of Hangchow to cure the sickness of his brother, but refused to see his own family living next door. What disillusionment a man must have perceived of the phenomena of this life to do such a thing!
And yet it is not impossible to understand it after reading his daughter's Life. The depth of disillusionment was equal only to the depth of his personal sufferings. Accused of having a hand in the publication of a work by another author, which was considered disrespectful to the new Manchu regime, this man, after bidding farewell to his ancestors in a sacrificial prayer, started out with his whole family to Peking, in chains and under guard, with the constant expectation that his wife and children and close relatives would be slaughtered wholesale. He had said in his prayer that if he came back alive he would become a monk, and he did. In this sense Buddhism was an unconscious gesture of man in his battle with life, a form of revenge somewhat similar in psychology to suicide, when life proved too cruelly superior. Many beautiful and talented girls at the end of the Ming Dynasty took the monastic vow through disappointment in love caused by those catastrophic changes, and the first emperor of the Manchu Dynasty became a monk for the same reason.
But apart from this negative protest against life, there is an aspect of Buddhism which has an evangelical influence on the common people, and works for general kindness. The most vivid and direct influence it exercises over the people is through its doctrine of transmigration. Buddhism has not taught the